I have addressed the power of words in previous postings. As I go about my business of training, reading and learning I am always always on the lookout for new issues concerning this topic. There are a couple of language issues I would like to address today.
Recently I was reading a very good article on www.policeone.com by Dan Marcou. Dan is a great trainer and writer and all around nice guy. His article was about dealing with a subject who informs you “I have a bomb.” It was a very good article and I would recommend you find it and read it. What struck me though was a reference to language made by someone in the comments section following the article.
The comment referenced the fact that we need to stop referring to subjects as Suicide Bomber and call them what they are which is Homicide Bombers. Their comment was right on the money. These people’s purpose is to kill and injure as many people as they can. Yes, they are willing to die to accomplish that but dying is a side benefit for them and not the goal. The reason this comment struck me as so powerful is the implications for training. Is it easier to teach your officers to take immediate deadly action to stop someone who is homicidal or someone who is suicidal? Officers are taught to use sound tactics with suicidal subjects in anticipation of them becoming homicidal, but they are also taught to use their crisis intervention skills in an attempt to talk the suicidal person down without anyone dying. A homicide bomber however is a subject about to commit mass murder and must be stopped immediately. It is only a matter of time until homicide bombers make their way to your streets. If they show up in an area where your family is shopping, dining or praying would you like the officers who respond to be thinking about dealing with a homicidal subject or suicidal subject?
I was reading a recent training notice put out by Ron Borsch Bedford OH, PD and SEALE Academy manager and lead trainer. Ron was talking about lifesaving countermeasures to the active killer’s crime of rapid mass murder in the schools and workplaces. Ron is doing some great work with his SOLO, (Single Officer Lifesaving Others), tactics in response to active killers. Lets talk for a moment about the term Active Killers. Predominantly in North America these subjects are referred to as Active Shooters. With the Calgary Police Service we always called them Active Assailants to help officers understand that the subject may have a weapon other than a gun. Some here have had knives and axes. What struck me when I read Ron’s notice was that he has perhaps the most appropriate term – Active Killer. Those two words describe exactly who these people are and what they are doing at that moment in time. It also makes it easier for officers to understand their mission when they know they are dealing with an Active Killer.
I had the pleasure of having a conversation with long time firearms trainer Larry Nichols following my Excellence in Training presentation at the IALEFI RTC in Bend, Oregon in October. During that conversation Larry mentioned that he does not use the term ‘Tap and Rack’ in his programs. He uses “Slap and Rack’. When you think about it that simple change in language makes so much sense. We do not teach officers to tap the butt of the magazine, we teach them to slap it. Would it not make sense to align the language with the desired physical actions?
Thats all from the ‘Language Police’ for now.